I commenced the winter of 2010 transcribing diaries of my Great Great Grandmother Mary Elizabeth. The remaining diaries begin in 1894 when she was 35 yrs old. She wrote them while she was on the original homestead. Her diaries are a record of daily life: the weather, her garden, crops, calves & colts born, marriages, deaths, dresses she sewed, my great grandfather Laurence, growing up, marrying, and then homesteading his own place where my grandfather, father, and I grew up and remain today.
Her diaries remind us of the daily discomforts of the time. We must not forget how hard she and her family worked, nothing came easily. Just getting through the day back then meant discomfort and effort at a level we rarely think about or can comprehend now. Its history provides a lesson in appreciation. It becomes infinitely more imaginable when I walk, ride, or drive by the places recorded in her diaries and know what past events happened there and whose foot steps I am following in.
One hundred and twenty-three years have past and we are still on the homestead working with the land as the stubborn generations before us. At times it seems it has come full circle. The early generations saw the disappearance of the wolf and dehorning of cattle, while we are seeing the reemergence of the wolf and considering adding horns back to the cattle herd. I think the thought has been ever present in each generation of: “Will we make it, will there be anything viable to pass onto the next generation, should we even encourage them to pursue this challenging way of life?”.
It is eerie to hold her diaries in my hand and think that her own hand moved over those same pages over 123 years ago, a woman I never met but feel as though I know. Through her dairies she comes alive like flesh and blood and realize she is part of my flesh and blood. What follows is her daily log of her life. I have tried to transcribe verbatim and have not correct misspelling or grammar. I have loved the work, the research, the learning, and the writing. I hope you will too, so join me on this journey of past and present.